For students unable to physically make it to school, there’s a new option: so-called “remote presence robots” that allow kids to participate in class virtually without leaving their home or hospital bed.

At least 50 children across the country are using the devices to attend class from afar, according to The New York Times. A common one called VGo connects to the child’s computer via an Internet connection allowing students who are homebound to remain actively engaged with their classmates.

The robot displays a video screen with the student’s face and includes a flashing light that can be enabled to get the teacher’s attention. VGo is able to travel through school hallways with the child’s classmates, all the while beaming live video and audio back to the child’s computer.

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Though initially worried about the robot becoming a distraction, one teacher said her students acclimated quickly. There have been hiccups, however, chiefly when the robot’s Internet connection fails, leaving the device lifeless.

Nonetheless, for kids who are homebound using the robot has offered a big social boost, parents say, allowing the children daily interaction with their peers.

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